At an event recently we were asked the best way to access Gluten Free food on a budget. Naturally this question got our research juices flowing.
So here we present to you our guide to Gluten Free eating on a budget. The most important part of this article (you will understand why later) is establishing whether you are Gluten intolerant, avoiding it for other reasons or actually suffer from Coeliac Disease.
- What is Coeliac disease?
- What is available to people with Coeliac disease?
- Gluten free
- Tips for both
According to charity Coeliac UK, their definition of the disease is “Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac and spelled celiac in other countries) is a serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when you eat gluten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means the body can’t properly absorb nutrients from food. Coeliac disease is not an allergy or food intolerance.
If you have diagnosis of this life altering disease then your food cannot even be prepared near gluten, it can have damaging impact from any cross-contamination and cause a horrendous flair in symptoms.
Coeliac UK state that “Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), and anaemia.”
It is often misdiagnosed as IBS. However once you are diagnosed, treatment is a very strict Gluten Free diet. If you are on a budget this can be very intimidating, as the cost of such products are often higher than their glutened counterparts.
Post-diagnosis, the world of freebies opens up to you.
With diagnosis you can access your specialist food on prescription. This is without a doubt the cheapest option. If your doctor has diagnosed you with coeliac disease, you might be eligible for Gluten Free staple foods on prescription. Just like getting medicine on prescription, your GP can write a prescription for Gluten Free staple food which you can collect from your pharmacist. What is available on prescription depends on where you live. Gluten Free company Glutafin state that: “The single prescription charge in England is £8.40 (April 2016). Each different category of Gluten Free food counts as one prescription charge (e.g. if you wanted bread and flour mix they would be two separate prescription charges).
Therefore, we would recommend that if you are taking a regular Gluten Free prescription, you should opt for a prepaid prescription. A prepaid prescription covers the cost of all of your Gluten free items for £2 per week.” It should also be added that if you are on Universal Credit or don’t pay for prescriptions, you are still eligible.
Trials and freebies
This is where the freebies come in. Lots of companies want to vye for your prescription, so they send you freebies to try and get you to use them.
This section is for people who don’t have a diagnosis of Coeliac Disease. As many of the trials are for people on prescriptions, a diagnosis is needed. So to access the free stuff that is very necessary, we highly reccomend working towards a diagnosis. We are however aware that if you are not in the UK, this alone can be very costly, so we have added some ideas for everyone. However, while there are lots of things still available without gluten, some of them won’t be absolute guaranteed devoid of cross-contamination. These options are strictly for people with an intolerance.
Instagram is a goldmine of food that is “accidentally Gluten Free.” An ‘accidentally’ Gluten Free product is one which is outside of the Free fFom aisle, but doesn’t contain gluten, or have a ‘may contain’ warning for wheat, gluten etc.
Famous Gluten Free food blogger and Coeliac UK ambassador Becky Excell does a round up of all the accidental GF products in Sainsbury’s here.
- Becky Excell’s Instagram page here.
- Accidentally Gluten Free Instagram here.
- Accidentally Gluten Free UK Instagram here
- Accidentally GF Instagtam here
A lot of the products shared don’t have the hefty free from price tag, so are a welcome relief.
Gluten Free Food Fairs
Check out Coeliac UK here to find out when and where one will come to you. These fairs are often a goldmine of information and people leave with bags of free samples.
ASDA and Morrisons
As we reported yesterday (here) these two supermarket giants are slashing lots of prices to help struggling families. They also did the same with their Gluten Free range. Asda commented on this by saying :
We’re excited to announce that we have invested £6.17m into Asda’s #freefrom range.
We believe our customers shouldn’t have to pay more for the food they love if they have an intolerance and have slashed the price of 62 Free From staples including pasta, flour, milk alternatives, cereals and breads among others.
With a 78% decrease in the price of Free From Flour (was £1.50, now 33p), a 67% price cut on family favourite Free From Frosted Flakes (was £1.80 now 59p) and 53% price reduction on Free From Bread (was £1.93 now 89p), Asda is leading the way in ensuring Free From shoppers can get everything they need at an affordable price.
Sounds good and fair to us!
Budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl also now have their own Free fFom ranges. Certain products (such as coconut flour) are a fraction of the price of other leading supermarkets. They do also have sections on their website of recipes for each different dietry requirement and ways in which you can shop them instore.
When shopping online, lots of supermarkets also allow you to shop a Gluten Free version of the site, allowing you to see accidental GF foods too. This, however, should always be double-checked, as mistakes can occur.
One last thing would be to look at Coeliac UK’s App. With this, you can scan foods with your phone to see if they have the definate GF sign of approval.
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MoneyMagpie are not an affiliated medical company and are in no way claiming to be a knowledge on Coeliac Disease. We are however highlighting that money can be saved in this area. We are flagging things that have been previously flagged by registered bodies.